Marketing Entrepreneur. Day Trader. Business Contrarian.

Where Does Web Traffic Really Come From?

Posted on Feb 19, 2014 in Advertising, Marketing Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

I’m always amazed when I hear people asking how they can get more traffic to their website. While I agree that traffic is important, you have to keep in mind that traffic today is equivalent to a Facebook like. They have many similarities, because not all likes are created equal, just as unique visitors aren’t created equal. Both metrics can be manipulated in a variety of ways, but perhaps most importantly, are both very small in measurable value. Before I go any further, let me first define what traffic is, hopefully without insulting anyone’s intelligence because this sets the context for the rest of the article.

Traffic represents the mediums by which people move from one location to another online.

When people say they want more traffic, what they are really asking is for a higher volume of people to move from one location on the web to their website as either an interim or final destination within a given browsing session. There are thousands of online educational products sold to users that teach them how to acquire traffic. These are most frequently promoted by affiliates who earn a commission from each sale. Below, I’m going to cut through the noise and show you the big buckets where traffic can be acquired 100% free, no strings attached. Note, this is representative of major traffic sources, but is not all-inclusive.

Organic Search – Traffic acquired from search engines. It doesn’t matter which one. A user could have found you on Google or DuckDuckGo.

Referral – Traffic from this channel occurs when a user clicks a link on a site external to your domain, that takes them to a web page you own on your own domain.

Social – Similar to referral traffic, users can also click links to web pages you own across various social networks

Direct – This actually accounts for a large portion of any site’s traffic. Direct traffic occurs when somebody arrives to your site by entering the URL into their browser directly, or clicking a bookmarked link. Know there are hundreds of other factors that contribute to direct traffic, but we won’t get into that now. The technical definition here is that direct traffic occurs when the HTTP referrer doesn’t pass through the user’s browsing session.

Paid – Perhaps the most difficult to understand, paid traffic can be acquired from many different sources. Know that the traffic was generated by paying another party for the ability to capture the attention of users external to your site, and bring them to a web page you own.

That’s it. Each of these buckets are often referred to as traffic “channels.” Within each of these channels, there are a number of vendors, programs, and tools to maximize the effectiveness of each channel, but please don’t be scammed into paying $1,000 or more to learn this information for free (Yes, I see this all the time and it kills me). For example, My Top Tier Business (MTTB) charges a $2,000 entry fee into the program to teach you the same traffic generation tactics that I’ll teach for free. Don’t worry, no affiliate link cloaking going on here.

While I consider each of the above to be a traffic channel, we must not forget the impact your content has on your ability to entice users away from where they are on the web to come over to your site. You see, content is really the cornerstone of every nook and cranny of the web. It powers our education, interactions, and purchases. Your ability to acquire traffic from any of the above channels will never be surpassed by the quality of the content you produce, where quality is measured based on relevance to your audience.


Not all traffic is created equal. In future articles, I’ll be adding more insights into each of these main traffic channels and showing you some of my preferred vendors for acquiring not only more traffic, but quality traffic.